Roku, Unity team on interactive streaming TV ads for mobile app marketers

Roku has teamed up with Unity to serve interactive streaming TV ads for mobile app marketers looking to drive app installs.

Unity is a vendor that, among other services, offers advertising tools for mobile game app marketers to help them acquire users and drive app downloads or installations. The company touts 82 of the top 100 games, as of September 2023, as using Unity to grow their bases. Now Unity’s bringing user acquisition capabilities to streaming TV with Roku through Action Ads.

The partnership connects Roku’s premium TV streaming inventory to the Luna app marketing platform.  With Action Ads, after seeing an ad, viewers can use their Roku remote to directly start the process of downloading the app or game onto their selected mobile device, after which they return to their streaming TV viewing. This also gives advertisers click-through measurement benefits, Roku said, meaning they can gauge the performance of their streaming TV campaigns from initial ad exposure to mobile app download.

Omer Kaplan, SVP of Revenue and Operations for Unity Grow, said in a statement that “the driving force behind this partnership is to turn CTV into a high-scale performance channel for apps and games.”

“Savvy app marketers today know that they have to harness every available channel to drive truly incremental and cost-efficient growth, and CTV represents a huge and largely untapped opportunity,” Kaplan continued. “By coupling that scaled inventory with Luna from Unity’s robust campaign management and optimization technology, this partnership unlocks unique value for app marketers who are looking to drive performance on home TVs.”

Through what Roku categorized as a first-to-market partnership, the streaming company said mobile app marketers can also easily buy cross channel media through a single platform, as they can log in to Luna from Unity and select Roku from a list of marketing channels.

“Mobile app marketers seek to maximize their budgets and ad opportunities. TV streaming has become the right performance channel to enable growth and provide channel diversity in a highly competitive market,” said Miles Fisher, senior director and head of Emerging and Programmatic Sales at Roku. “Roku’s scale, tech, and direct connection with the viewer are uniquely positioned to make the largest screen in the home work harder for mobile performance marketers on Roku.”

According to Roku, following a beta test, Luna from Unity is working with a limited number of partners to scale growth on the streaming TV platform.

In terms of reach, Roku in the third quarter expanded its net active accounts by 2.3 million, bringing its total to 75.8 million. The company also reported a “solid rebound” in video ads in Q3, though cautioned against uneven ad recovery by category. Advertising continues to present opportunity for growing Roku’s business, and in a letter to shareholders, the company noted advertising traction thanks to diversification of demand sources and expanding partnerships. Roku is now integrated with more than 30 programmatic partners.

“This is a result of our ability to tap into new budgets from existing advertisers while growing the number of new advertisers, including SMBs (small- and medium-sized businesses),” wrote Roku to shareholders regarding positive Q3 growth. “We are also driving growth through expanding partnerships.”

Unity marks the latest strategic product and commercial partnership with Roku, which has been teaming up with several companies to offer different types of ad opportunities and formats. For example, Spotify partnered with Roku as its first TV streaming partner to introduce video ads in the streaming music app on Roku devices. Since last year Roku also launched a shoppable ad pilot program with Walmart, as well as QR-code-enabled ad formats for DoorDash merchants that included offers for consumer perks and more recently one-click shoppable Action Ads with Shopify merchants.

Roku isn’t the only one experimenting with new ad formats and interactivity.  Amazon’s Fire TV this month introduced a handful of new options for advertisers leveraging its connected TV user interface including home screen placements for non-media and entertainment brands, and contextual sponsored tiles, among others. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, meanwhile, just introduced the ability for viewers to shop certain products and looks from select episodes of Bravo’s “Below Deck,” through a shoppable TV ad program with Walmart. And smart TV maker Samsung integrated interactive ad capabilities for in-stream video ads on its Samsung TV Plus FAST service through a partnership with Brightline in September.